Swiss voters soundly rejected a plan Sunday that would have limited executive compensation to no more than 12 times the lowest-paid employees' pay.
The measure, known as the "1:12 initiative," was defeated 65.3% to 34.7% even amid wide public disapproval of excessive executive pay.
But despite that negative sentiment, the proposal seemed to be a step too far for the majority of voters. The plan, an effort by Switzerland's Young Socialists, was rejected by voters and all 26 cantons, or states, in the country.
The measure would have needed a majority of votes from both voters and the cantons to pass.
Switzerland is home to large multinational companies including pharmaceutical firms Novartis and Roche, banking firm UBS and Credit Suisse.
The country has fewer regulations than many other European countries, which is partly why large corporations are headquartered there.
Critics had warned that imposing the pay law would have hurt economic competitiveness. Supporters of the plan did not indicate if they will choose to pursue any other action.
“Of course we’re disappointed,” Young Socialist leader David Roth told Swiss television, the Associated Press reported. “Our opponents succeeded in making people afraid,” he added, though he insisted that there was “no future” for an “economic system based on salaries in the millions, on financial speculation.”